TelecomTV *Raw

The best of TelecomTV, plus (un)related junk from the site’s Director of Content

Blogwatch: The 4G picture becomes clearer, or does it?

LTE logo

LTE logo

Branding LTE, hedging bets over WiMAX, opening White Space in the US, doubts over mobile advertising and music, and Twits take over the world…

Last week we featured an intelligent critique of the GSMA’s branding policy, having umpteen acronyms for all the variants of evolved GSM, compared to the much easier to recognise WiFi products. Not really the fault of the GSMA mind you, more to do with the 3GPP. However, it looks like it has fallen on deaf ears, as this week sees the release of the 3GPP’s official logos for next generation LTE and LTE Advanced. Note the clever treatment of the initial ‘A’ in Advanced… a subliminal 4G message if ever there was one. According to the LTE Watch blog:

The official documents for the decision can be downloaded from the 3GPP. You can actually find some nice information on 3GPP’s ongoing marketing and communications efforts in the documents.

LTE Advanced is one of two technologies that are expected to meet the ITU’s IMT-Advanced requirements (aka 4G), the other being the Intel-led 802.16m WiMAX. However, just last week Intel said it would add HSPA connectivity to its Moorsetown chipsets. An admission of doubt for the nascent 4G technology, or a recognition that you need multiple options for mobile broadband? According to the GigaOm site:

This is great news for all of us waiting for truly ubiquitous broadband, especially since Intel previously abandoned an idea to put some sort of 3G radios in its Centrino laptops back in 2007, saying customers weren’t too hot on the technology. As for WiMAX, Intel will offer that for Moorestown too, but it will be a while before WiMAX has the coverage options required to support users traveling outside of a few WiMAX enabled cities.

There is a lot of debate in the US at the moment about the so-called “white spaces” in the wireless spectrum – the gaps between TV spectrum allocations – and whether or not they should be offered for new wireless services. The Federal Communications Commission issued a report last week favourable to the authorisation of unlicensed white space devices. The Ars Technica site spoke with Motorola’s Steve Sharkey, director of Spectrum and Standards Strategy, to discuss the vendors plans. According to Sharkey:

It’s hard to know where this will ultimately go. I think we’ve got some good ideas for services that we can provide now. It’s kind of like WiFi. When that first became available and the structure for WiFi was first approved, I don’t think that anybody guessed where this would ultimately go or how widely it would be deployed or how extensive it would be. That’s the same kind of opportunity that I think we’ve got here. This is something that we’re very excited about—the opportunity to provide these products. So there’s a lot of focus on moving forward as quickly as possible.

Staying on the subject of mobile, Andrew Grill over at the M-Search Groove blog posits that Mobile Advertising is Broken. It’s a length post that ties in with an LBS conference this week, but he concludes by saying:

One thing for certain: Mobile changes all the rules. We must all recognise and apply this in earnest. Mobile is a personal device, and we have to get personal. This means developing mobile campaigns that start by asking people their permission and inquiring about their preferences (while respecting and allowing them to manage their privacy). Only then, in my opinion, will the way be clear for mobile advertising to really take off.

Wired Magazine editor Chris Anderson got al lot of mileage out of his take on the Long Tail theory, and indeed still does. Now he asks the question of whether it works for mobile music:

Apparently not, at least not with the current generation of phones that make music discovery difficult. Frank Taubert, CEO of 24/7 Entertainment, which provides 4.5 million songs to a wide variety of digital music services including the unlimited mobile music services Omnifone, told Popkomm attendees that a full 66 percent of those songs had never been purchased or downloaded — not even once. The lesson? More evidence that a Long Tail without good filters is just noise.

Moving on… News broke last week that Yahoo is set to fire at least ten per cent of its workforce. Silicon Alley Insider got hold of what it claims is the company-wide memo sent to all staff by CEO Jerry Yang:

yahoos, i feel it’s important for me to reach out to you after our earnings announcement, and before our all hands meeting tomorrow … because compensation expenses are the single largest part of our costs, we anticipate a reduction of at least 10% of our global workforce by year-end … having layoffs is very difficult, particularly in light of all we’ve experienced this year. but we don’t take these decisions lightly … as always, i thank you for all you do as yahoos. best, jerry

Spend enough time trawling the blogs and you soon come across some weird and wacky applications (trust me!). This one, spotted by O’Reilly Digital Media, is a cracker, and there’s even a YouTube video on how to do it:

Here’s a clever Web service: Find a DVD at Netflix or a CD at AOL, click the Paper Case bookmarklet (JavaScript link), and it will print the cover image and details. Then you fold the paper, tuck your disc inside, and slide the package into an album, saving lots of space.

Ever wondered what Twitter is all about? Take a look at TelecomTV’s own Twitter feed to find out. As for the business model… what business model, asks Henry Blodget at Silicon Alley Insider?

We’ll stick our necks out here: Twitter could eventually be worth more than $1 billion. Why? Because they’ll figure out a revenue model eventually, just like Google did. Why is Twitter different than the 9,000 other Web 2.0 companies that are intending to figure out a revenue model eventually? Because people are obsessed with it.

Our TelecomTV feed is merely a test, but there are plenty of people out there using it for real. Mashable has a list of 25 Celebrity Twitterers… or is that Twits?

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Tuesday, 28 October 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Blogwatch: Radiohead vindicated, WiMAX phone pics, and GSM confusion

It’s a generational thing. The moment someone thought up the term ‘3G’, we were in trouble. We started calling GSM 2G and everyone with a new technology started calling it 4G. But it gets worse, as we’ll soon find out. But first, proof at last that the music industry can adapt its business model if it wants too and still make money (rather than moaning and wasting millions of dollars in lawyers fees).

‘You Little Thief’ was a number one for our favourite troubadour turned city gent, Feargal Sharkey, and indeed it sums up the attitude of most of the mighty music industry towards downloaders. But there are musicians out there for whom the music is everything, and are not afraid to change the game plan. So congratulations to Radiohead and their publishers Warner Chappell Music. Last week they finally revealed details of ‘In Rainbows’ album download licensing experiment.

The Music Ally blog reported that Warner Chappell’s Head of Business Affairs Jane Dyball said that the digital publishing income from the first licence (for the Radiohead pay what you want site) alone dwarfed all the band’s previous digital publishing income and made a “material difference” to Warner Chappell UK’s digital income.

The topline figure, though, is that there were three million purchases of In Rainbows, including physical CDs, box-sets, and all downloads – including those from the band’s own website and from other digital music stores. That’s an incredible number, given that their previous three albums sold in the low hundreds of thousands.

• After being made available for free for 3 months the album was no.1 in the UK and in the US

• The physical CD has sold 1.75 million to date and is still top 200 UK & US

• They sold 100k boxsets via W.A.S.T.E.

• Nearing 17 million plays on last.fm

• 1.2 million fans will see the tour

• The digital income from the experiment made a material difference to WCM’s UK digital revenue this year

More insightful comment from the Techdirt website:

Radiohead has been notoriously quiet about it — leading some to falsely assume that the experiment was a failure. CNN even called it one of the dumbest moments in business last year. That seemed ridiculous on its face, as it was quite clear that the experiment was a huge success for Radiohead, even if the band was quiet about the numbers. Some will point out that this experiment isn’t very representative, because Radiohead got a huge boost by being the first high profile band to do this. And that’s absolutely true. But that doesn’t mean the business model doesn’t work at a more reasonable level. Obviously, Radiohead got a big boost from doing something unique and different, but that just gives other bands reasons to look at not just copying Radiohead, but adding more unique offerings themselves. That’s how business models innovate, by trying out new stuff and trying to attract attention. Unfortunately, though, we still have big record labels who think business model innovation is having Congress protect your old business model.

Has The Register spied the world’s first’ WiMax mobile phone? It thinks so, having spotted some photos of a new HTC handset on the web:

Picture of the handset, said to be called the HTC T829, have leaked out and, unless some good-quality Photoshop trickery’s involved, a series of pictures online show the device connected to a wireless network at 13.8Mb/s. This is a wireless speed that far surpasses the connection capabilities of HSDPA 3G, which top out at no more than 7.2Mb/s. Various icons on the mysterious HTC device also appear to show it connected to a network called Yota, Russia’s 802.16 WiMax network that – as of early October – covered central Moscow.

WiMAX, of course, is one of those technologies that certain dumbos insist on calling 4G, when it most plainly is not. But it is a newer technology than 3G, so why not call it 4G? And hence we get to the heart of the problem; by promoting a generational series of evolving mobile technology, we invite confusion and misdirection. Brough Turner on the NMS Communications blog writes that the GSM Association has flunked ‘Branding 101’:

If the GSM vendor community had to sell to consumers or enterprise IT directors, they would fall flat on their faces, because neither the GSM vendors nor the GSM Association (GSMA) have any concept of branding! Today’s email brought the GSMA’s newsletter, Mobile Brandband Weekly Update. Although the newsletter ends with this statement: “Copyright 2008 GSM Association. GSM and the GSM Logo are registered and owned by the GSM”, neither the term ‘GSM’ nor the GSM Logo are used anywhere in this newsletter!

He adds that there are 13 news items, all about 3GSM technology, but that the acronyms GSM and 3GSM never appear. However, HSDPA appears 7 times, HSUPA 4 times, HSPA 6 times, together with EDGE, HSPA Evolved and LTE… He adds:

‘3GSM’ is a good way to talk about 3rd generation GSM, but why actively promote the use of: UMTS, W-CDMA, HSDPA, HSUPA, HSPA, HSPA+, LTE and so on, without also saying GSM or 3GSM? This is massively confusing. What are they thinking? By comparison, consider the brand recognition achieved by the WiFi Alliance. People may mention 802.11b, a, g or even n, but they always do so in the connection with the name WiFi. There is one WiFi brand. The difference of course is that WiFi is sold to individuals and businesses around the world. WiFi vendors can’t afford to get this wrong. Apparently, GSM vendors and the GSM Association can.

More unrest over mobile operators, courtesy of Carlo Longino on the MobHappy blog, who says that US operator Verizon Wireless is doing its best to strangle SMS content:

Verizon Wireless has put the word out that it’s going to start charging 3 cents for every mobile-terminated text message that goes across its network starting November 1, on top of the existing fees it already charges. That “poof!” sound you just heard was the SMS content and marketing business in the US vanishing in a cloud of stupidity. If this charge sticks, it will decimate the commercial SMS business in the United States. Content providers will have to try and suck up the charges, or decide to cut off customers of the country’s second-biggest operator. Neither choice is appealing, and it’s doubtful that very many business plans can adapt to either one.

Even good-old, reliable Symbian comes in for a bashing, over claims that it is no longer sexy (was it ever?). On his personal blog this wee, David Wood (EVP of Research at Symbian, and “DW squared” to his chums) wanted to know why:

I keep running into the “glamour question”. Scott from Mippin raised it again the other day, in a shrewd comment in response to Roger Nolan’s recent analysis “Symbian’s open source challenge”. Scott suggests that one reason for the reduced excitement over Symbian lies “the complexity of Symbian. It is just too complex and developers stay away”. Previously, I’ve offered my own list of “Symbian passion killers” that can hinder developers from becoming fully inspired (and therefore fully productive) about creating software for Symbian OS. As I’ve said before, the plans for “Symbian 2.0” in the wake of the creation of the Symbian Foundation include several important projects to address passion killers. To what extent can Symbian OS become viewed as glamorous and exciting, rather than just some kind of incumbent?

One company that keeps escaping hostile fire is Apple. Say what you like about Jobs’ little outfit, but they sure do have a great following. Last Thursday, Apple announced that all four of the major US television networks are offering primetime programs in high definition on the iTunes Store, which it claims has become the world’s most popular online TV service with over 200 million episodes sold, including more than one million HD episodes purchased since last month.

“We’ve got an incredible Fall 2008 TV lineup with over 70 primetime comedies and dramas, including many of the most popular shows on TV in stunning HD,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s vice president of Internet Services. “With over 200 million episodes sold, iTunes customers have proven they love watching television on their computer, iPod, iPhone and TV with Apple TV.”

The iTunes Store digital media catalog now spans over eight million songs, over 30,000 TV episodes and over 2,500 films including 600 in high definition. (via AppleInsider)

And finally, Forget the front desk: Hotels go high tech. A new iPhone app is reviewed on the Mobile Crunch blog. Runtriz, a software firm out of Hollywood, CA, is aiming to bring hotels up to speed. Following a series of quiet test runs at other LA hotels, they’ve debuted a product called “Hotel Evolution” at the Malibu Beach Inn in Malibu, CA. When a guest checks into the hotel, they’re asked if they have an iPhone or iPod Touch. If they do, the hotel staff will load the Runtriz Hotel web application to the device. If they don’t, they’re given a 16gb iPod Touch (with the application pre-loaded, of course) to keep for the duration of their stay.

Once you’ve punched in your room number and security code, all of the hotel’s service offerings are but a click away. Straight from the device’s screen, you can order room service, set a wake up call, request your luggage, dry cleaning, or car (or if you’re going all out, a limo), request linens or toiletries, check your messages, or set your room to “Do Not Disturb”. They also provide information about nearby nightlife, attractions, and shopping … The cost of getting such a system up and running varies on a hotel-by-hotel basis. According to Matt Allard, president of Runtriz, the cost of the first month is generally about double that of the standard monthly fee of $10 per room.

Monday, 20 October 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Blog Watch: Forbidden Fruit — How Vodafone Mistook a Blackberry for an Apple

Vodafone has come in for some stick this week. Not for its increased stake in South African operator Vodacom — which is a good if overdue move, especially as rival MTN strengths its warchest and gears up for regional expansion. No, what has the bloggers rattled is its pricing of embedded Mobile Broadband. Although it’s early days for laptop 3G, Dean Bubley has made some “back of the envelope” calculations, based on Vodafone’s reselling of the Dell Inspiron Mini 9 with 3G inside:

taken over a typical laptop’s 3 year life, assuming contracts are continued after 24 months at their current prices, the options are:

– PC from Dell, plus Vodafone dongle = £299 + £15 x 36 = total of £839

– PC from Dell on finance, plus Vodafone dongle = £915

– PC from Vodafone with embedded module = £1080

And what’s with the audio books? £15 each?

Under Vodafone Books on Mobile, books are expected to cost between £5 and £15 and any purchases will be added to monthly Vodafone bills. The service is a partnership between Vodafone and GoSpoken. com, a website dedicated to putting books on mobiles co-founded and co-funded by Andy McNab, the soldier-turned novelist. High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) technology means that a three-hour audio book can be downloaded in three minutes.

“Sometimes we wonder if it’s just us that think this is great and it won’t catch on,” Mr McNab said

Hmmmm…. For a taste of schadenfreude, it looks like some of Vodafone’s marketing people may be in for a visit to the headmaster’s office to receive a damn good thrashing:

In the transition from their notification page to spiffy new Flash minisite, some lazy/sloppy/Apple-inducted marketers really couldn’t be bothered to find some BlackBerry OS pictures and decided to throw the iPhone interface in there instead. Now, we could give these guys the benefit of the doubt and presume that they were actually making a cheeky statement about RIM following in Apple’s footsteps… That is, if it weren’t for the BlackBerryNews watermark still sitting on the BlackBerry Maps screenshot.

Original story and pictures over at Engadget.

However, the news gets worse for Blackberry manufacturer RIM. Mobile Tech Addicts received “an anonymous tip off” and a copy of an internal statement from UK operator Orange, explaining why it has halted sales of the Blackberry Bold:

Following reports of software issues with the BlackBerry Bold handset across a variety of mobile operators, Orange has decided to act in the interest of its customers by suspending shipments of the device in the UK. We are currently awaiting feed back from RIM as to when an industry wide fix for these issues will be in place… BlackBerry/RIM are doing everything they can to resolve this issue and will be completing full testing and validation to ensure future handsets do not have any quality issues.

A question that has been puzzling many of us, is “Why did Nokia really buy out Symbian”? One answer comes from the team at Vision Mobile. They list several factors that could be behind the move, including this one:

to marginalise Microsoft away from consumer phones and ODMs. The zero price point for running royalties also makes Windows Mobile way more expensive (based on $6 per unit price according to Nomura), for both consumer phones, and especially for ODMs who have tiny margins. With Nokia recently licensing Exchange server connectivity across all of its S60 phones, this makes Nokia a credible competitor for the enterprise segment, too.

With Apple now rumored to have passed its goal of shipping 10 million iPhones for the year, and gained a 17% share of the smartphone market, I feel fully vindicated in pitching a couple of wacky iPhone apps.

Mind you, as Tomi Ahonen says, as part of a length but insightful post on his blog:

To put it in context, Nokia sells 10 million new phones every single week of the year. So yes, 10 million is a major milestone for a brand new phone-maker that has just entered the market; but it is still small potatoes. Very very very small potatoes.

But back to the apps. First up, South Park fans can expect a fun application anytime soon. The Boing Boing bloggers visited the South Park studios and got this scoop:

The app functioned beautifully, with the ability to stream clips, grab wallpapers for your device, read news, and browse the complete episode index. Also: choose character likenesses as “contact images” for your iPhone — assign a face to the phone book entry of your choice. An incoming call from best friend displays Kyle or Cartman; your medical marijuana dispensary is Towelie, and so on.

And finally, IntoMobile reports that fans of Brian Eno’s unique music can have a go at emulating their hero, whilst chilling out in the process (obviously):

Touted as a “part instrument, part composition and part artwork,” Bloom creates something what we could call a new instrument designed specifically for the iPhone and iPod Touch. The idea is to tap a colored screen in various places and produce your own music. After you’ve finished tapping, the newly created track is played in a loop, thus creating a new music on the fly. While music is played, the tones appear as colored spots that slowly fade. In addition to creating your own music, Bloom can also create songs on its own using some form of random algorithm…

And finally…. congratulations to the US city of Monticello, Minnesota (pop: 12,000) whose residents voted overwhelmingly to put in a city-owned and -operated fibre network. The local telco tried to sue them to stop, citing illegal use of municipal bonds, but this week District Court Judge Jonathan Jasper dismissed the suit with prejudice after finding that the city was well within its rights to build the network. Power to the People!

Friday, 10 October 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment